We'll never forget our brave First World War soldier

We'll never forget our brave First World War soldier

ARMY: Reg Rastall in his Worcestershire Regiment uniform

NEVER FORGET: The small blue flower on the jacket lapel in this photo of Reg Rastall is a silk Forget Me Not glued there by Nell

WIDOW: Nell Rastall, she never remarried after her husband's death

First published in Family Memories by

It's a simple story, but one which must have been so familiar to thousands of families who suffered during the First World War.

Private Reginald Richard Rastall of the Worcestershire Regiment was 24 when he was killed in the hell hole of Springfield Farm during the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917. His body disappeared in the mud and he has no known grave. He left a baby son whom he never saw, but also several touching momentos that have been passed down through the generations by a family determined never to forget his sacrifice.

His grandson David Rastall, who lives in Peterborough Close, Worcester, has been researching the young soldier's history and what follows is his account.

"My grandfather Private Reginald Richard Rastall served with D Company of the 1/8th battalion the Worcestershire Regiment.," said Mr Rastall. "He was killed, aged 24, on August 27, 1917 during the regiment's assault on the German stronghold of Springfield Farm on the Steenbeek, between Langemarck and St Julian. In the the local newspaper, the Worcester Herald, an obituary to him appeared on September 8, 1917 when it was reported that he was killed by a sniper.

"There is a trench map for the area east of Ypres, where the action took place. The successful assault on Springfield Farm resulted in an advance of about 250 yards at the cost of 51 killed and 63 wounded from the 1/8th Worcester's alone. Zero hour for the attack was 1.50pm and the goal was finally achieved after dark. The weather on that day was atrocious with a downpour of rain, which caused the ground conditions to deteriorate. A contemporary report stated: 'The great bog of shell holes had become virtually impassable, a vast wilderness strewn with corpses and smashed materials, including tanks'.

"I also have a card my grandfather sent to his wife of two years on her 24th birthday on July 1, 1917, just eight weeks before he died. It is a beautiful silk card, typical of soldiers' cards from the trenches. It is in the form of an envelope and when you lift the flap it reveals a separate card, which reads "FORGET ME NOT". On the reverse is a message, handwritten in pencil, which reads: "To my darling Nell from your everloving husband Reg. July 1, 1917, with 24 kisses."

"Pictures of Nellie and Reg on their wedding day in December 1915 were found amongst Nellie's possessions after she died in 1939. She never remarried. The small blue flower on the jacket lapel is a silk forget me not, glued on to the photo by Nell."

Reginald Richard Rastall's ultimate sacrifice is commemorated on the wall of the Tyne Cot Memorial at Passchendaele in Belgium, along with 34 of his comrades from the 1/8th Worcesters who died on that day, and like him, have no known grave.

Mr Rastall added: "Through the wonders of the internet, I have managed to research the course of events on the day he died and on August 3, 2014 we as a family, visited the area around Springfield Farm to leave our tributes close to where he was killed. His only child, who was my father, would have loved to have been with us to honour the father he never knew, but sadly, he passed away many years ago. It is good to feel that his wish to 'not be forgotten' is being upheld by the second and third generations of his family as it was so obviously and lovingly done by the young widow he left with a five-month-old son."

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